Republicans sitting on a Florida House committee bucked their state's GOP governor Monday by rejecting an expansion of Medicaid included in President Barack Obama's health care law.
By a party-line vote, the members of Florida's Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act decided against writing a bill expanding Medicaid in the Sunshine State, despite Gov. Rick Scott's pledge last month that Florida would accept the provision.
Under Obamacare, the federal government will pick up the total cost of the expensive expansion for the first three years, after which the federal funding will phase down to 90%. The program covers all adults with annual incomes at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, which is currently $14,404 for an individual.
Republicans on the panel questioned whether the funding from the federal government would actually last for three years, given current wrangling in Washington over federal spending and the national debt. They also worried about expanding a program in Florida they characterized as broken.
Medicaid expansion in Florida isn't totally dead, however. A Florida Senate panel postponed a vote Monday on whether or not to accept the Obamacare provision, saying it needed more time to digest information that was presented by the state's economist. If the Senate panel votes it through, followed by the full Florida Senate, then it would go to the full Florida House for consideration. Republicans hold significant majorities in both chambers of the Florida legislature, making an expansion Medicaid far from certain in the state.
In his acceptance of the Medicaid expansion, Scott faced blowback from conservative Republicans who oppose Obama's health law as an overreach of the federal government. Scott was once a leading voice against the law, and campaigned heavily against it during his 2010 bid for governor.
However, in accepting the provision last month, Scott said he could not "in good conscience deny the uninsured access to care."
"We will support a three-year expansion of our Medicaid program under the new healthcare law, as long as the federal government meets their commitment to pay 100 percent of the cost during this time," he said.
Scott's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the House panel's decision Monday.